Debut Orchestra helps launch new OLG Cathedral celebrations
The Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra of Los Angeles will make its debut in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels as part of the annual celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, held for the first time on the night before her Dec. 12 Feast Day and culminating with a Midnight Mass.
Following the Dec. 11 8 p.m. kick-off of Aztec dancers on the Plaza, the celebration will move into the Cathedral at 10 p.m., where YMF’s prestigious Debut Orchestra will perform a program of specially-orchestrated hymns to Our Lady as well as classical works by Mexican and American composers.
Currently in its 58th year, the orchestra comprised of 70 of Los Angeles’ most talented 15-25 year-old musicians is the second oldest pre-professional training orchestra in the U.S.
“I am thrilled to be conducting the Debut Orchestra for the Virgin of Guadalupe Feast Day celebration at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,” said Roger Kalia, 27, the newly-appointed music director and conductor of the YMF Debut Orchestra.
“This is the first time that the Cathedral has included an orchestra in this celebration, and we could not be more excited to be a part of it. We hope to continue this collaboration in the years to come.”
A New York native who grew up attending St. Mary’s Church in Manhattan, Kalia occasionally played his trumpet at his parish as part of a brass quintet for Easter services. He is in his final year as a Doctoral Conducting Fellow and associate instructor at Indiana University, and was selected from a competitive pool of over 20 international candidates to lead the Debut Orchestra for the next three years.
For the Cathedral’s Guadalupe concert, Kalia told The Tidings that, in addition to the orchestra’s performance of Marian hymns with singing provided by the 30-member El Coro de Catedral (Cathedral Spanish) choir, the program includes three musical selections that were picked by the conductor for their universal appeal and popularity.
“I wanted pieces to be fun and accessible,” said Kalia. The works he selected include “Danzón No. 2” by prominent Mexican composer Arturo Márquez (possibly the most popular Mexican piece of classical music according to Kalia); “Huapango” by José Pablo Moncayo (typically played on New Year’s Eve in Mexico); and the finale, “Musica Celestis” (a contemporary piece by Aaron Jay Kernis, an American composer and professor at the Yale School of Music).
“I thought it would be great to end on a beautiful, lyrical piece,” said Kalia, noting that a spotlight will illuminate a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe during the performance of “Musica Celestis.”
Colburn Conservatory violin student Hugh Palmer, 25, Debut Orchestra’s concertmaster from Minnesota, is looking forward to performing for the first time in the Cathedral, within walking distance from the conservatory.
“I am most looking forward to Marquez’s ‘Danzón No. 2’ and Aaron Jay Kernis’ ‘Musica Celestis,’” said Palmer. “The Marquez is a piece I have performed before and is extremely fun and entertaining to play. The Kernis is a new piece to me, and is very beautiful and a challenge to perform.”
“I’m looking forward to the newly-orchestrated arrangements of traditional hymns to Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said Anna Betancourt, director of the Cathedral Spanish Choir who will sing a duet of the song, “Himno a Juan Diego,” with Msgr. Joseph Brennan, archdiocesan moderator of the curia/vicar general. Additional soloists will include Delia Rios singing the Bach/Gounod “Ave Maria,” and well-known Mexican singers, Graciela Beltrán and Ruben Sandoval (“El Canario de Oro”), among others.
After the 40-minute orchestra program, a Mariachi segment of the celebration will commence with the group, Mariachi Los Reyes, accompanied by soloists who will serenade the Virgin and sing “Las Mañanitas,” a traditional Mexican birthday song that is sung to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe on her Feast Day.
The festivities will conclude with a Midnight Mass celebrated by Archbishop José Gomez, a native of Monterrey, Mexico. The event, conducted entirely in Spanish, will be televised by Univision, Telemundo and EWTN and will also be live streamed on the web and radio. Admission is free.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is home to the only relic in the United States of the Tilma of St. Juan Diego, where the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously appeared almost 500 years ago. The relic of the Tilma of St. Juan Diego was given to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1941 as a gift from the Archbishop of Mexico City in appreciation and friendship after Los Angeles Archbishop John Cantwell led a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
For more information on the celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Cathedral beginning at 8 p.m. on Dec. 11 and continuing with midnight Mass on Dec. 12 lasting until approximately 2 a.m., log onto www.olacathedral.com.